Cubs

Despite trade rumors, they're still here

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Despite trade rumors, they're still here

This season will decide what kind of goalie Corey Crawford will be. Is he the kid who put up impressive numbers as a rookie two seasons ago and outplayed Roberto Luongo in the playoffs? Or is it the slumping sophomore, who wasnt helped at all at times by lackluster defensive play around him?

The team made a three-year investment in him a year ago, and there are no legitimate indications hes being aggressively shopped. At least without a realistic, sure-fire upgrade on the market.

Both Stan Bowman and Joel Quenneville have stated with confidence that Crawford has learned his lessons and will bounce back. But that didnt prevent the general manager from pursuing the 40-year-old Martin Brodeur, who holds virtually every career goaltending record and took the New Jersey Devils to the Stanley Cup Final. Eventually, Brodeur re-signed with the only NHL team hes played for.

Having a chance to get a guy like that, hes a great goaltender, Crawford said Friday at Blackhawks Convention. But I cant really focus on that stuff. Ive got worry about what Im doing and how Im preparing myself. All that other stuff can just become a distraction for you.

Niklas Hjalmarssons name has been one thats come up in trade discussions for teams talking with Bowman. Its been associated with teams looking for veteran defensive help, including Edmonton and Ottawa.

Not really, Hjalmarsson responded when asked if any of the rumors affect him. I cant really do much about it or think about it too much. Its up to the management. I just try to control the things I can control. Thats never really bothered me.

That doesnt affect his focus at all?

No, he said, matter-of-factly.

That doesnt bother him?

No, Hjalmarsson shrugged, looking quite believable.

As for recent far-fetched reports of Dave Bolland being shipped to Vancouver in a package for Luongo, the newlywed smiled and said, next question.

What, he wouldnt mind being a teammate of the Sedin sisters, as he once called them?

Oh, there ya go, he smiled and laughed, not wanting to take the bait.

Summer of Sammy: Sosa's 10th, 11th homers in 1998

Summer of Sammy: Sosa's 10th, 11th homers in 1998

It's the 20th anniversary of the Summer of Sammy, when Sosa and Mark McGwire went toe-to-toe in one of the most exciting seasons in American sports history chasing after Roger Maris' home run record. All year, we're going to go homer-by-homer on Sosa's 66 longballs, with highlights and info about each. Enjoy.

Sosa is heating up, but even a red-hot Sosa doesn't automatically equal wins for the Cubs.

Slammin' Sammy notched his first multi-homer game in 1998 in a 9-5 loss to Kevin Millwood and the Atlanta Braves. Sosa drove in 4 of the Cubs' 5 runs on a solo shot in the 4th inning and a three-run shot in the 8th. 

Sosa tallied 830 feet of homers in the game, with his first blast going 410 feet and the second shot measured at 420 feet.

The big game bumped Sosa's overall season slash line to .337/.411/.551 (.962 OPS) with 11 homers and 35 RBI.

Fun fact: Mickey Morandini hit second for the Cubs in this game and went 4-for-4, but somehow only scored one run despite hitting just in front of Sosa all game. That's because Morandini was caught stealing to end the 3rd inning, leaving Sosa to lead off the 4th inning with a solo blast.

Steve Kerr told a Michael Jordan Bulls story to give advice to Kevin Durant

Steve Kerr told a Michael Jordan Bulls story to give advice to Kevin Durant

Anyone who lived through the Michael Jordan Bulls remembers those games when he was putting up tons of points, but the Bulls were still struggling overall.

Steve Kerr referenced one of those games to give advice to Kevin Durant during Game 5 of the Western Conference Finals. The TNT broadcast caught the conversation and aired it late in the third quarter.

"When MJ was with the Bulls, we had a playoff game," Kerr began the story. "He kept trying to score and he was scoring, but we weren't getting anything going. Phil Jackson said 'Who's open?' He said, 'John Paxson.'"

Paxson famously hit the game-winning shot in Game 6 of the 1993 NBA Finals to clinch the series. Kerr, who later hit his own championship-winning shot on an assist from Jordan in 1997, was trying to get to get his teammates involved.

"I want to trust your teammates early," Kerr said. "What you're doing is you're getting to the rim and then you're trying to hit him. I want you to trust the first guy and then move. Still attack, still look to score, but trust these guys, OK?"

Watch the video above to see the interaction.

Durant scored 29 points in Game 5 to lead the Warriors, but Houston took a 3-2 series lead with a 98-94 win.